Sometimes, I dread reading the news because I know that occasionally, things like this will be the headline.
Yesterday, Ugandan Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga told The Associated Press that not only will the country’s controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill pass before the year is out, but it will practically be a celebratory event. Despite criticism on an international level of the proposal, which would persecute anybody in the LGBTQ community within Uganda, Kadaga insists that Ugandans “are demanding it.”
She reportedly attended a meeting on Friday in Uganda’s capital of Kampala with anti-gay activists, including Christian clerics who insisted to her that homosexuals posed “a serious threat” to Uganda’s children. In fact, some asked her to pass it as “a Christmas gift.” Part of a petition read:
“Speaker, we cannot sit back while such (a) destructive phenomenon is taking place in our nation… We therefore, as responsible citizens, feel duty-bound to bring this matter to your attention as the leader of Parliament … so that lawmakers can do something to quickly address the deteriorating situation in our nation.”
The bill, commonly called the “Kill The Gays” Law, will punish homosexuality according to its placement within two categories: the offense of homosexuality and aggravated homosexuality. The “offense of homosexuality” is defined as the participation in a gay relationship and any same-sex acts. This would be punishable by imprisonment. “Aggravated homosexuality” includes gay acts committed by pedophiles, authority figures, parents, HIV-positive people and repeat offenders, and is punishable by execution. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” homosexual acts, is already illegal in Uganda. However, this bill would strengthen and widen the punishments given.
The bill was originally introduced by Member of Parliament David Bahati in 2009. Despite considerable pressure to eliminate it, Bahati refused to withdraw it, insisting that it was necessary: “We have our children in schools to protect against being recruited into (homosexuality). The process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on.” Why is it that homophobics have this absurd fear of the gay agenda and the “recruitment” of children? That’s not how it works. People can no more “recruit” somebody into a sexuality as people whose favorite color is blue can “recruit” people who are partial to orange; it’s not a choice, it’s inherent.
“”Who are we not to do what they have told us? These people should not be begging us,” Kadaga said regarding the demands of the anti-gay activists. While I see her point, I also think it’s ridiculous to make a law that harms non-violent citizens because violent-minded ones demand it. If everybody listened to the demands of the loudest group, then the Westboro Baptist Church would likely have achieved some terrifying, violent legislature, something more than bringing their bullied victims together and be comedic fodder for everybody else.
The idea of this bill passing is terrifying to me, as it should be. Uganda would be even more dangerous for anybody who is either a homosexual or simply deemed one–and it would set a dangerous standard for anybody looking to wage a potentially violent, but definitely oppressive, war on homosexuality in their own country. Being gay needs to be considered, worldwide, about as significant in the eyes of the law as having freckles or enjoying blueberries (i.e. completely unrelated and ridiculous to be persecuted for). Until all of the international LGBTQ community can walk free and 100% without fear, this will still be a huge human rights issue and one deserving of a great deal of attention.
Photos via Wikipedia and SML/Flickr.